Teachers, farmworkers among those rolling up their sleeves as state broadens

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — California has authorized vaccinations for health care workers, for people in long term care, for people over 65, and now, as it moves closer and closer to reopening, for school teachers and for food workers.

The state’s hierarchy of COVID-19 vaccination priority has added three additional categories: agriculture and food workers, emergency service workers, and education and childcare professionals — school teachers, for whom 10 percent of new vaccines have been set aside, per GOV. Newsom..

And that potentially speeds up the opening of schools and in-person learninG, something teachers, students and students’ parents have been clamoring for for months.

Medical workers at Adventist Health Bakersfield were moving things along at a brisk pace Monday — the first day of four they’ll be administering the Pfizer vaccine to the three newly added group. That’s in addition to those previously given priority: health care workers, long term care residents and, as supplies allow, people 65 and older.

Kiyoshi Tomono, an Adventist Health executive, said the next priority is mobile vaccination sites, something the governor echoed during his trip to Kern County Monday.

“We’ve already started a mobile initiative out in eastern Kern and we’re working on starting some mobile initiatives next week,” he said. “I think that as we move forward we’ve got a lot of primary care clinics, we’ve got pharmacies, we’ve got home health agencies right here in the city center. I think the challenge is going to be getting out to the folks in those other areas.”

John Moore of the Kern County Farm Bureau said farmworkers are another group of essential workers whose health is vital to the economy. That industry can’t afford any more disruptions.

“At the beginning of the pandemic we saw some disruptions to the supply chain,” Moore said. “In order to prevent further disruptions I think getting a wider populace vaccinated is incredibly important.”

But the biggest smiles under those masks belonged to educators who were ready to get back in the classroom.

Said Rocio Barrigan, an aide at Owens Primary in Bakersfield: “I’m so ready.”

As California moves haltingly toward some semblance of normalcy, it’s a big step — vaccinations for teachers. But it’s not just teachers that benefit — it’s kids, it’s families all throughout California that are waiting to reopen. And now that goal is in sight.

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